An Australian Franchisee Case Study
Name: Anna Calcagno
Location: 197 Lygon Street, Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria
Why did you go down the franchise route? And why did you choose Gelatissimo franchise?
I chose this particular franchise for a number of reasons. Firstly I truly believed in the product. I knew the flavours were amazing and the beautiful presentation would make it easy to sell. Never having run my own business before, I believed that with a Gelatissimo franchise the only thing I had to worry about was selling a product that was amazing to eat, amazing to look at and attractive to the whole human race, (children, men, women, older generation) so it was an easy choice. When our location came up in a popular eating district known as ‘little Italy’ in Melbourne, we didn’t hesitate to grab it and went from there.
Going down the franchise route was safer in our minds than starting something from scratch. After our initial enquiries we felt comfortable with Gelatissimo, because it offered the support we needed, not only at the beginning but on an on-going basis.
What did you do before taking up your Gelatissimo franchise?
My husband has always had his own business and in the early years of our marriage, and while our children were young, I worked with him in an administrative capacity. It suited our lifestyle at the time, because I could be there for the kids as well as comfortably work in a part time capacity.
How did you raise the finance?
We had recently sold a half share in a business that had been extremely successful, so we were sufficiently cashed up to have enough money to cover our start up costs, renovation expenses for our gelateria and working capital to carry us through the first few months of trading.
What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
After the first couple of visits with the then CEO, Malcolm Cohen (once we went to Sydney and once he came to Melbourne) we were able to secure a good lease on our current location. After discussing our ideas with Malcolm’s son who an architect, he drew up plans for the shop’s renovations.
We went to Sydney for in-office training and on-site training in a gelateria. At the time this was done at the Coogee store. We had two people from head office come down to Melbourne for our opening and they were with us for the first five days. People have always been available to answer questions by phone at head office or on their mobiles; during working hours, after hours or weekends. Support has always been excellent and continues to be so today.
What is a typical day for you as Gelatissimo franchisee?
Because I manage my own store, I work in a full time capacity, so my shop’s presentation, including the gelato display, is ALWAYS of a high standard.
The first thing I do each day is ensure that any surfaces not properly cleaned the night before are wiped down and sparkling. I then set up the till so there is enough change to get through the day.
I check which flavours need to be made so all the trays are full and looking fabulous and make what is necessary, re-garnishing or fixing any flavours not being made but which are perhaps looking a bit shabby.
There is always some paperwork needing to be done, be it rosters, paying bills, banking etc, and this fills in the days. We defrost various freezers during the week, including both rotundas and the three upright freezers in which we store our back up stock.
And, of course, we spend time with our customers, so their experience in our store is a great one.
What challenges have you faced?
The biggest challenge I have faced, and constantly face, is ensuring my staff maintains my standards, which are very high. I have learnt to accept a percentage of what I want, so I can walk away and leave my store in the hands of other people; otherwise I would have to be there 24/7. Because I know it’s impossible to be there constantly, I concentrate on training staff better on a one on one basis.
Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
I would say that becoming a franchisee has changed my life. It has given me a confidence I didn’t know I possessed. I realise how much I love people and dealing with them. I know what it’s like to work at something simply because it’s something I enjoy and not just because it’s something I have to do to contribute to the household, therefore I am really happy to go to work every day. It’s also been rewarding financially giving us extra ‘play’ money at a time in our lives where we can enjoy it, because the children are old enough to leave while my husband and I travel.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying their first franchise?
I would say do your research and speak to people involved in that particular franchise. Learn as much as possible about the product you will be representing and if you truly believe in it, love it and are confident about it being something you know other people can love and will want also, then go for it. Do your sums carefully so you don’t put yourself under too much pressure financially and ensure there is a strong team behind you, to guide and help you along the way.
What are your plans for the future?
Because I am really happy doing what I’m doing right now, I am hesitant to make any changes. I love my job and the rewards are great, so for now things will remain as they are. I would hope that within the next few years my husband and I can think of semi retiring. We may opt to sell what we have and live off our earnings and hard work or have someone in place to manage our shop and just have a minimal involvement.
Would you do it again?
Absolutely yes. I’m sorry I didn’t do it earlier in my life. Being involved in a franchise like this one with a great team and a sense of family is wonderful. All my hard work is paying off; I am the beneficiary of the fruits of my labour, not someone else. It’s been rewarding both financially and personally and I’m very proud of the person I’ve become building my business and making it a success.
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